The behind-the-scenes work of Boulder-based engineering firm Ascent Group.

By Elise Oberliesen.
Photos courtesy of Ascent Group

Most people won’t realize how often they come in contact with the byproducts of local businesses. Whether you’ve heard of them or not, you likely have an experiential relationship with the Ascent Group, a Boulder-based engineering firm that boasts an impressive client list.

Each time you stroll down to the iconic Union Station and admire the art, architecture and lighting, you experience some behind-the-scenes work from the Ascent Group. 

Thanks to business partnerships like these, oblivious consumers take joy in life’s small pleasures – and without ever knowing the details. Like, say, sipping suds at local bar that serves up Left Hand Brewing or Upslope Brewing beverages, more Ascent Group clients.

Before the beer arrives at any bar, summer music festival, or your refrigerator, keep in mind, that brewing equipment comes in gigantic packages – the kind that require forklifts or cranes to move.

The Ascent Group was brought in when both breweries required structural changes to their buildings, said Andrew Kelsey, Principal with the company.

Ascent was the Engineer of Record (EOR) for the structure of a cold storage building for Left Hand Brewing, in Longmont, which now offers a taproom. Changes like this help Left Hand maximize operations from the brewing process, to storage and shipping, Kelsey said. 

“We did all the foundation and building connection structural design, we had to give Left Hand a way to get pallets of beer from existing storage to the new cold storage,” Kelsey said.

Upslope Brewery called Ascent Group when they needed larger brewing tanks. Calculating the load from thousand-pound tanks helps engineers determine whether the existing floor structure supports the sheer weight of those tanks. If not, Kelsey said it then requires “poured reinforced concrete pads.” Problem solving skills like this are needed for nearly all heavy equipment installations, including roof-mounted HVAC systems that weigh in the thousands. Because let’s face it-no one wants the AC unit to fall into their lap when kicking back in the tap room.

Kelsey said they also work with smaller operations keen on tapping into the growing craft brew industry. In order to thrive, these brewers must retrofit their building space with new commercial equipment that can produce larger batches of brew.

“We help get a building repurposed for brewing with large heavy storage tanks and large electrical and plumbing lines. They also need equipment to cool and heat the space and it requires heavy equipment on the roof or floor, considering the building needs retrofitting to accommodate the heavy equipment,” Kelsey said.

Loving Union Vibes 

Whether you ride light rail from Union Station or just like to hangout in these trendsetting digs, just know this: Ascent Group was part of the interior systems support project for RTD and the rail systems. No doubt, that’s a pretty big feather in their cap. 

“We were hired to support architectural features, like suspended glass block supports from the floor and ceiling. We worked on mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems as well,” Kelsey said.

Next time you fire up the laptop or mobile device at Union Station, just remember someone had to run miles of wires behind those walls. That’s what allows you to not only surf the web, make wi-fi calls and run mobile apps to buy a cup of coffee – but also for retailers to run credit card machines and use scanner or RFID technology to ring up your bill. It was the Ascent Group who helped make it possible, said Kelsey. [AECOM, General Contractor, Ascent Group as consulting engineers].

Lovin’ The New Office

Have you driven by that new office located at 3107 Iris? At about 37,608 square feet, you can’t miss it. If you’ve driven by this swanky place, then you have had an experiential relationship with the Ascent Group – and you get how they leave their mark in and around Boulder. 

The two-year project started in 2016. The design team consisted of about 10 companies and 30 people. They teamed up with architects at Hartronft Associates to “make it [the building] stand up with wide open spaces and mountain views,” Kelsey said. 

“There is sustainable criteria that needs to be met, heating, cooling, draining, sighting for solar panels. We worked with the entire design team so it would all work together,” Kelsey said. 

Tenants in this new building will love views the of the Flatirons, natural light and that lovely new office smell. 

Ascent Group
6707 Winchester Circle, #100, Boulder